Decades ago, when Bishen Singh Bedi was the rage of Indian cricket, a visiting member of the Olympic Sports Committee said it was hard to think of a sporting event, which did not have a Sikh as a star of the team.
Indeed, involvement in sports is almost a religion among the community, which has a penchant for physical and mental fitness. Over the years, Sikhs have made their mark in Athletics, Cricket, Football, Golf, Hockey, Racing, Snooker, Tennis and many other forms of sports.
And their passion of Kabaddi is legendary.
That passion was evident at the seventh anniversary of Gurudwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib in Takanini held on March 11, 2012.
Like India, the matches were witnessed by men, women and children, who had formed a circle to get every action of the game.
Kabaddi originated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and is called Sadugudu in Tamil and Chedugudu in Telugu. Kabaddi is also popular in Punjab and Bangladesh, where it is considered the national sport, known as Hadudu.
The Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) was founded in 1950, followed by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1973.
The AKFI has given new shape to the rules as per the evolving trends.
Kabaddi was introduced and popularised in Japan in 1979.
The Asian Kabaddi Championship was held in 1980 and India emerged as the champion and
Bangladesh as the runners-up.
The game was included for the first time in Asian Games held in Beijing in 1990.
Eight countries took part including India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
India won the gold medal and has since won gold at the Asian Games held in Hiroshima (1994), Bangkok (1998), Busan (2002) and Doha (2006).
How the game is played:
Two teams of seven players occupy opposite halves of a field of 12.5 m x 10 m (half of a basketball court). Each team has five supplementary players held in reserve.
The game is organised into two 20-minute halves, with a five-minute half-time break during which the teams switch sides.
The teams take turns sending a “raider” across to the opposite team’s half, where the goal is to tag or wrestle (confine) members of the opposite team before returning to the home half. Tagged members are “out” and leave the game.
Meanwhile, the defenders must form a chain, for example by linking hands; if the chain is broken, a member of the defending team is sent away.
The goal of the defenders is to stop the raider from returning to the home side before taking a breath. If the raider takes a breath before returning to the home side, the raider is out and is sent off the field.
A player can also get “out” by going over a boundary line during the course of the play or if any part of the player’s body touches the ground outside the boundary, except during a struggle with an opposing team member.
Each time a player is out the opposing team earns a point. A team scores a bonus of two points, called a lona, if the entire opposing team is declared out.
At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.
The Punjabi style of Kabaddi is also known as ‘Circle Kabaddi,’ or ‘Ring Kabaddi.’
In this version, played in a circular field, a single raider crosses to the opposing semi-circle where four “stoppers” await, arm in arm. The raider must tag one, and only one, of the stoppers and then run back across the dividing line of the circle, usually between two markers along that line, to receive one team point.
If the tagged stopper can tackle the raider, or push the raider out of bounds, the stoppers’ team receive the points. Raids occur alternately between the teams. The first raid of the match is worth 1½ points.
Among the other games played at the Takanini Gurdwara complex are volleyball, soccer and cricket.
The Kabaddi matches organised as a part of the seventh anniversary celebrations of Sri Kalgidhar Sahib (Takanini Gurdwara) were called off due to bad weather.
However, a few matches were played prior to the cancellation.
The first match was between India Red versus the Doabi Sports Club of Auckland. The visiting team won the match whilst the Australian Kabaddi team won the match against India Blue.